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Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien to testify before Jan. 6 hearing on election falsehoods

·Reporter
·4 min read
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The Jan. 6 committee’s series of public hearings will resume Monday morning with a number of in-person witnesses who are expected to shed new light on former President Donald Trump’s effort to overturn the results of the election. One of the witnesses will be Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager.

Committee members are likely to press Stepien, a behind-the-scenes veteran of Republican campaigns, on what Trump’s inner circle knew about the results of the election they lost, even as their candidate actively contested the outcome.

Kayleigh McEnany, Eric Trump and Bill Stepien at an event in Pennsylvania.
Then-Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, right, Eric Trump and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany at a campaign stop in Old Forge, Pa, in 2020. (Evan Vucci/AP)

Committee aides told reporters Sunday that the public will hear — from both in-person witnesses and taped depositions of others who have spoken to the committee — about Trump’s decision to declare victory on election night, even though he “was told again and again he didn’t have the numbers needed to win.”

The committee staffers also said the panel “will reveal information about how the former president’s political apparatus used these lies about fraud to drive fundraising” and bring in millions of dollars between the election and Jan. 6, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent attack aiming to stop the certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s win. (The aides spoke on background, meaning that their names would not be used.)

Stepien is set to testify alongside Chris Stirewalt, a former Fox News political editor who was fired by the cable network in January 2021, amid backlash from Trump supporters over the journalist’s decision to accurately call Arizona for Biden as the final votes were tallied.

Reps. Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., vice chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the committee chairman. (J. Scott Applewhite/File, AP)

Monday’s hearing will mark the second in a new series of panels that the select committee plans to hold this month. During the initial primetime hearing on June 9, Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Vice Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., outlined how the committee plans to use the hearings to reveal what it has learned over the past 11 months about the Jan. 6 attack.

Committee aides told reporters that Monday’s hearing would be focused on the “big lie,” or “the decision by the former president to ignore the will of the voters, to declare victory in an election that he’d lost, to spread claims of fraud,” and to continue to do so after his attempts to litigate those claims in court were unsuccessful.

Stepien and Stirewalt will make up the first of two panels of witnesses for the day. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed published after his firing, Stirewalt wrote that the refusal of many Trump supporters to believe the legitimate results of the election was a “tragic consequence of the informational malnourishment so badly afflicting the nation.”

The second panel will feature conservative election attorney Benjamin Ginsberg, former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt and BJay Pak, who served as U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Georgia for the Trump administration.

After the election, Trump falsely claimed that widespread voter fraud delivered Biden’s victory in swing states like Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. In a recorded phone call, Trump even pressured Georgia state election officials to “find” enough votes to flip the state from Biden to himself; Pak is likely to testify about this period of time.

Committee aides also said that Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., “will play a key role” in Monday’s hearing, which they predicted will likely last a little more than two hours.

On June 9, Cheney promised that the upcoming hearings would show evidence of Trump’s involvement in what she described as a “sophisticated seven-part plan to overturn the presidential election and prevent the transfer of presidential power.”

In the primetime hearing last week, committee members also offered a preview of how they plan to use both live and pretaped witness testimony to connect the dots between Trump’s efforts to subvert the outcome of the election and the violence that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

In addition to Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards and documentarian Nick Quested, who appeared in person on Thursday night to describe their interactions with members of the extremist group the Proud Boys, who were among the first to breach the Capitol on Jan. 6, the committee also showed clips of some of the more than 1,000 witness interviews it has conducted over the last 11 months.

Among the most notable witnesses featured in the clips shown Thursday include: Trump’s daughter and former White House adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner; Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller and former Attorney General William Barr; Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of the far-right paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, who has been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the attack on the Capitol; as well as a number of other accused and convicted rioters.